There is no magical, miracle cure! And, we are a “growing” population. We are currently in an epidemic where too many are over weight and risking their health. But what can we do? We can share what we know, we can share it with someone we know who is struggling, we can share it by talking about it over social media, the internet or in the street, and we can lead by example. We need to show it’s not a big effort, but it’s worth it. Like anything, you invest a lot of time at work to buy the things you need, you pay for repairs to your car to maintain it, but what do we invest in to keep our bodies functioning?
I have lost a lot of weight, and what finally did it for me was doing it the right way. I tried fads like the Lemon Detox diet, sure I lost 6kgs in 4 days, but I didn’t eat anything, I had a headache after the first day but afterwards I gained it all back. I tried Tony Furgusson (a meal replacement idea), again I could lose the weight but it was momentary. I found the only way to lose weight was to learn something.
First of all you have to understand what it takes to lose weight…
- Self control
- Planning ahead
- Portion control
- Balancing what you eat with what you can burn off
- Eating the right food – healthy food
Once you finally get it and you realise if you eat something just because you want it (because you will get cravings), then you either have to be willing to face the scales the next day and accept it, or you have to be willing to work it off. Eventually I mustered a strategy: “don’t eat what you aren’t prepared to work off”. Because that’s what it will turn into… Work.
Think of your body like your bank account, money comes in each week/fortnight/month and the cost of living ensures money goes back out again. Now think of money as food and the bank as your body, the more food/calories/junk food you ingest means it takes more “expenses” (workouts, effort) to balance. Lets say it takes you $100/day to survive, then to maintain your weight you would have to control what comes in to $100, if you receive any more then you will make a gain, but if you work harder and it takes more than $100/day to sustain then you will lose some.
MOVE MORE AND EAT LESS!
Weight loss means you curve your habits and your thinking. I used to be underweight, I thought I could eat whatever I wanted because when I was younger that had limitations, I lived with parents and rarely ate junk food, I ate three controlled meals a day.
- Cereal for breakfast
- 1-2 sandwiches for lunch
- Meat (1/3 of my plate) and 2/3 vegetables
We ate at the same time each day and my tummy would growl if it took longer to get a meal. However, when I moved out I disrupted my pattern, I no longer ate at those times, I couldn’t be bothered to peel and cut veggies so I ate a lot of heat up meals, I got fast food meals which equated to what I should eat over the whole day in a meal. Once I started to look at the calorie content in things I started to realise my downfall, you just don’t realise what is in some of the food we eat. If an average person should have a daily intake of 1200 calories and a wrap from red rooster is around 700+ calories, then we add chips worth at least 350. That’s already over 2/3 of our daily intake, not to mention the health concerns. Excess fat and carbs, we’re at risk of cholesterol, blood pressure issues putting a strain on the heart, diabetes as we gain weight which down the track will impede the bodies circulation.
So what did I do? Well I started to calorie count, and at first I didn’t exercise. I checked the energy content of everything and tried to keep it under 1200, I developed strategies to assist this. I would carry water everywhere and drink that through the day, I would chew gum, brush my teeth (as food tastes bad then), make distractions and stay busy.
I began a low impact exercise DVD in front of the tv at home as it hurt my knees to run and my feet hurt to walk too far. I saw the exercise as a compensation for exceeding my calorie limit, and researched how much energy it was burning. I tried not to get food on the run, instead I carried low calorie snacks and taught myself to wait until I got home and to listen to my body… Was I really hungry or just bored? I started to only eat when I was feeling empty, I would try to prepare smaller meals, eat them and wait 15-20mins to see if I was still hungry. I drank coffee or tea in-between meals. All of these changes I made slowly, I found I would lose 1-2kgs a week. As I was able I started walking on the treadmill, then I could run for 20mins. Eventually I didn’t feel very hungry, and small meals filled me up for around 5 hours, now a large meal could keep me full for almost a day so I try to avoid them and I don’t like the feeling of being full any longer.
Don’t be disillusioned, this was not an easy progression, and it took me 2 years to lose 32kgs. It took a lot of self control, a lot of planning.
A few tips:
- Do the grocery shopping on a full/content belly
- While cooking dinner prepare lunch for the following day
- Don’t fill your plate
- Don’t feel pressure to eat what’s on the plate – stop when you are no longer hungry, not when you’re full
- Plan ahead, always have food in the fridge/cupboard
- Don’t buy treats you shouldn’t eat
- Drink water before meals – it aids digestion and may satisfy you if you’re thirsty rather than hungry
- Try and develop a routine if work permits
- Fill your plate with vegetables
- Snack on fruit, muslie or nuts – not sugar and carbs
What Do I Do Now?
If you read my blog you’ll know I try to eat healthy and exercise when I can. I am a nurse so that means I am on my feet all day at work, but when I first started I found the breaks were too often and I had to learn that we don’t have to eat just because we have a break. Now I plan ahead, I pack lunch where I can. I can’t eat breakfast because my belly doesn’t tolerate it, so I pack a bowl with cereal and have that for morning tea. I have something light for lunch, like yoghurt and muslie with a banana, or just a home made fruit salad, have an afternoon snack of crackers and hommus if I’m hungry, then cook dinner when I get home. If I work afternoons I just make sure there are left overs from the night before.
I still have to calorie count, as I often struggle with temptations and I do struggle with maintaining my weight. I still reach for food when I’m bored sometimes, but I try and keep myself distracted or have a drink first. Now I have an app that’s compatible both on android and IOS called “my fitness pal”. You can use it to log all the calories you had throughout the day and the exercise, it has almost any food you can think of, but if you can’t find something you can just add the calories in manually. What I like about it is that it takes your calorie intake for the day and deducts the amount of calories you would have burned from the exercise you log. Not only that, it also allows you to add friends, link it up to facebook and share your progress with friends. It also has a feature that tells you how much you will weigh in 5 weeks if you continue on your path of that day.
I use a website that also now has an app. Spark People, now this one has similar functions, but the website also allows you to watch exercise videos and read about other people’s progress to help motivate you, in addition to allowing you to log your energy consumption and exercise.
I think these apps are awesome when it comes to weight loss if you plan to do it the right way. I don’t think fads work, well at least not the ones I tried… At the end of the day you need to know what foods to eat that are good for you, we eat for nutrition not enjoyment, although we can get both. Remember to keep it balanced, fibre for digestion, protein, calcium, nutrients, minerals.
Keep an eye out for more tips on what to consider for your diet, and remember exercise is just as important as what we eat. It helps us feel good, and will help you live longer.
And remember that to lose weight all we must do is MOVE MORE AND EAT LESS!